Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has warned directors of Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (Fisd) Limited not to act on their threats to dismantle solar-powered water equipment in Phalombe District.
Chakaka Nyirenda’s remarks come against the background that, this week, Fisd officials announced that they would dismantle the solar-powered water system they have installed as the government was yet to honour its K600 million payment.
The AG warned that dismantling the structures would amount to vandalism, which he described as a criminal offence.
“Fisd has some contracts with government, some [of them] successfully and some unsuccessful. We have one in Ntcheu District and the other one in Phalombe District which are under dispute. The thing is that we had some poor workmanship in these contracts as well as we had a [case of] double payment in Ntcheu, which they accepted but are refusing to refund [us],” he said.
Chakaka Nyirenda said the contract between the company and the government has a dispute-resolution mechanism that provides for arbitration.
“Any rightful contractor would not resort to vandalism or barbaric actions in resolving the dispute. I am, therefore, surprised that this is coming from a company that has been there for some time doing a lot of contracts. One thing that I must tell you [the company] is that if you say you are dismantling [equipment], that is a criminal offence under vandalism and is a serious one,’’ he said.
The Daily Times has learnt that Fisd, which was contracted to install the solar-powered water system, has been waiting for payment from the government.
It is reported that about 43,000 households in Traditional Authority Chiwalo, Phalombe, will suffer if plans by the company materialise.
Fisd Chief Executive Officer Raymond Mwenitete said they had decided to dismantle the equipment after exhausting all channels of communication.
“We installed a solar-powered water system with pipes that carry water over a distance of more than four kilometres but we have problems because the client [the government] is not paying us the money which, in turn, is crippling our services.
“So, we have decided to remove the system so that we can use it elsewhere— where others can pay us,’’ he said.
According to Mwenitete, the government has been withholding payment for two years now, a development that reportedly forced the company to retrench its workers.
He added that, since its property was used as collateral in a loan agreement, the company could end up losing its office complex in Lilongwe.
“We, as a company, are now in deep financial crisis because we borrowed money from the bank and used our building as collateral and, anytime, the bank is going to sell our property,” he said.
The project was implemented under Sustainable Rural Water Infrastructure for Improved Health and Livelihood activity